Enrollment Rates May Rise – but We Must Still Fix Higher Ed
For the Fall 2020 semester, many eyes have been on the world of higher education, anticipating an even larger summer melt or dropoff rate in enrollment than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent article from the Lumina Foundation’s Jamie Merisotis, however, enrollment could actually be on track to be on the rise, having increased between 22-33% at various universities sampled. While this is good news for the collegiate world, Merisotis says this is not exactly unexpected as, following the 2008 recession, college enrollment increased by about 16%.
Instead of staying comfortable in increased numbers, Merisotis stresses that it is more important than ever to take a hard look at the issues that plague higher ed and come up with solutions for them. Merisotis broaches the subject that some lower-income colleges that are doing incredible work for students are being hit the hardest by the virus. Through this time period, he pitches that colleges that work on five key components for students are rewarded and aided. Those are:
• Designing programs specifically for the students of today
• Refocusing on student success once they are already enrolled
• Striving for inclusivity and racial equity on campus and off
• Form connections between students and jobs
• Work towards affordability while maintaining quality of education
These five components, Merisotis asserts, will build a college experience that will better equip our current students with the skills necessary for post-graduation life. By emphasizing an education that is all about the student, how well they are doing, and where they are heading after they leave campus, students will be emerging with more than just degrees, and will have better prospects in the future.
These propositions are not based on new issues. Rather, they are on-going, long-term criticisms levied by graduated, current, and prospective students at the university systems in America. Increased enrollment shows that there is a need that can be filled by the nation’s schools, and it is imperative that they step up to the challenge.
Read the full article here.